Playing Through the Fence


Playing Through the Fence is part memoir, part self-help for emerging leaders or anyone seeking inspiration while facing obstacles in her career journey. Nineteen women share powerful reflections of fortitude and accomplishments in their lives and careers, sometimes against what seemed like impossible odds, as they challenged barriers on their paths to success.

A metaphor for these barriers, “The Fence” represents the crossroads where struggle meets opportunity. The stories shared by these women are a snapshot in time along their journey when they chose the path of opportunity. They remind us we are not alone, and that success, though sometimes appearing elusive, is always within reach.

Career titles of individuals have been omitted because careers have changed over the span of time (and during the course of writing this book). Names have been changed to maintain the anonymity of individuals in their stories.

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  • Christina Allen
  • Maggie Beckley
  • Angela Brooks
  • Maria Cadenas
  • Cheryl Carron
  • Tina Chang
  • Faithe Colas
  • Debra Crawford
  • Sheree Dallas Branch
  • Cristy Garcia-Thomas
  • Margaret Henningsen
  • Bernell Hooker
  • Joan Kessler
  • Maria Monreal-Cameron
  • Kimberley Noon
  • Deloris Sims
  • Becky Trochinski
  • Shanon Vuckovic


Every now and then a book comes along that reframes a long- standing issue in a way that leaves readers feeling re- freshed, reassured and quietly happy. Playing Through The Fence by Mary J. Dowell takes an upfront and personal look at the obstacles and challenges faced by a cast of 19 characters, each of whom tells a story of triumph.

This is not a book of clichés or larger-than-life superwomen. It is a collection of personal stories that expose gritty realities and meets them with heart and determination that is bolstered by love and support from people who believed in them. In each case, a by- product of struggle is emotional enrichment. Mary’s voice is heard throughout the book, reminding us “where there is obstacle, there is opportunity.” She looks back on her own journey of challenge, disappointment, growth, and success with a depth of wisdom that comes with time.

Her grateful attitude and graceful hand transforms this medley of stories into an anthem of strength, beauty, and triumph that is accessible and eminently relatable not only to women of all ages and stages of development, but to every human being who has faced dismissal. A foundational concept that rings throughout the book is also a call to action: “Crisis is a moment to decide; an opportunity to grow.”

When you decide to grow, you begin a process of enlarging your experience, sharpening your mind, and creating new possibility. This book offers reassurance that your effort, however painful or disappointing in the moment, is worth- while. You are worth the struggle to flourish and grow. Then, having overcome life’s toughest challenges, you are beautifully equipped to lend a hand of support to others looking for a reason to go on.

Mary J. Dowell’s journey is a testament to this truth and a gift of love for generations to come.

~Susan A. Marshall

Founder, Backbone Institute, LLC

Author:  How to Grow a Backbone; Life Be In It; Of Beauty and Substance: A Backbone Guide for Women

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